David Pierce | Matematik | M.S.G.S.Ü.

Travel

İbrahimpaşa, Cappadocia, April, 2010

Our friends Üstün and Jean invited us to visit them at their house in Cappadocia. Üstün warned me that staying with them would be just a step above camping. It was a big step.

Aye and I travelled on Friday, April 23, 2010, a national holiday. From Ankara we took the 9:00 bus of Nevşehirliler Seyahat. I had reserved and paid for the tickets on the web, but we had to have the tickets printed at the otogar before boarding the bus. Our return tickets could not be printed there; we were supposed to get them in Nevehir.

The bus station was crowded. I usually have my boots shined there, since otherwise I would just be standing around; this time, I had to wait for another customer to leave the stool. When the shoe shine man got to work on me, I offered some idle chitchat, by way of indicating that I was not entirely ignorant of Turkish. I mentioned that I was teaching at METU. He said, “I'm retired from there! I worked in the cafeteria.”

We stowed our bags and boarded our bus. Many of our fellow passengers seemed to be young people going on holiday. An hour and a half from Ankara, the bus stopped at the Kapadokya facility, as on a trip in 2009. It was too early for a proper lunch.

We were going to the village of İbrahimpaşa, between Nevşehir and Ürgüp. For the bus company, Nevşehir was the hub where we might be put on a minibus to reach our final destination. When reserving our outward ticket, I hadn't noticed that it was possible to specify this destination—not İbrahimpaşa, but Ürgüp. When making the return reservation, I did specified Ürgüp as our origin.

When we reached the Nevşehir otogar, it transpired that we were not changing our bus. But some of our fellow passengers had time for a cigarette. Ayşe ran inside to have our return tickets printed out, while I held the bus. She was told to get the tickets printed in Ürgüp.

The bus continued on to Ürgüp via Göreme and Avanos before taking the road back to Nevehir and dropping us at the İbrahimpaşa junction. When the bus paused in Ürgüp, Ayşe tried again to get our return tickets printed. She was told instead to telephone ten minutes before the bus left Ürgüp on Sunday at noon: the driver would bring the tickets and pick us up at brahimpaa. This is indeed what eventually happened.

Meanwhile, on Friday, having been dropped at the roadhead, we walked the two kilometers to the village of İbrahimpaşa. Along the way, children observed to one another, “Tourists!” Ayşe explained that we were local tourists; for some children, turist is a synonym for yabancı “foreigner”.

When we reached the maidan (meydan in Turkish), we asked where Üstün and Jean's house was. A young man with a limp showed us the way; but meanwhile, Üstün had come out to greet us. She took us through a door in a wall, and we found ourselves on a terrace overlooking a valley.

 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]
 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]

The above-ground part of the house was made of blocks of tuff. As it was only spring, the stone was cold. Our hosts offered to make a fire in “our” bedroom, but we declined. The down quilts kept us warm as toast. I awoke well before dawn, as usual, and went out to see the stars and watch the sunrise. The birds knew what was happening; they sang throughout the valley. At a little past six, from the roof, I saw the sun rise above the opposite plateau. Then I went down to the terrace and watched the sun come up again. When the day grew brighter, several hot-air balloons appeared above the northern horizon. Indeed, some villagers now have jobs taking tourists on balloon rides. Two of the balloons appear in a photo below, along with the two satellite dishes belonging to the neighbors.

 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]  [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]  [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]  [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]

The old houses of brahimpaa resemble in their elegance the old houses of Mardin. But some of the interior spaces of brahimpaa are caves. stn and Jean have a cave that will eventually be a dining room: it is below the lane outside the house, and Jean has had its ceiling reinforced by two stone arches. Jean has done a lot of work on the house, from scraping the stones to make them white again, to making tables and cabinets with exotic woods in his Ankara workshop. Neighbor Paul stopped by to photograph, for his blog, one of Jean's inlays, patterned after the work of the founder of De Stijl.

 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]

On one side of Jean and Üstün's dining cave is the bath cave, along with stairs up to the planar walls and arched ceiling of the kitchen. One can go out to the terrace from there: nearby are a detached sitting room and stairs to the roof. From the other side of the dining cave, one can go up and through the arched main doorway, out into the sunshine; or one can descend further to the caves below the terrace. I was enchanted by the blending of the rounded contours of the caves with the dressed stones of the upper rooms.

After breakfast, we all went down into the valley. Üstün and Jean had bought their house when İbrahimpaşa was the last undiscovered village of Cappadocia. Now it has been discovered, and many houses there have been bought by city people. However, the houses usually remain untouched and ruinous, awaiting a day when they can be resold for a profit. We poked around a couple of these houses in the valley.

 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]  [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]
 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]
 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]

Beyond one of the houses, we could walk a narrow path to some painted decorations. These may once have been inside a cave, until the outer walls fell away. The decorations are not obviously Christian to me, though they do feature something like a Celtic cross; there also appear to be hanging censers. The village was formerly known as Babayan, and its Armenian inhabitants are said to have embraced Islam a couple of centuries ago, but to be known even today in neighboring villages as dnme “converted”.

 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]  [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]  [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]
 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]

After our walk, we had tea on the maidan. stn reports that she is the only woman, apart from tourists, who will set foot there; and indeed, this is what we observed. We wanted some yoghurt, but the small shops didn't sell it: the locals made their own yoghurt from their own animals. Still, one of the shopkeepers went home and brought us some of his family's yoghurt in a stainless steel dish. We couldn't pay for our tea either; this was taken care of by the village Jack-of-all-trades who had arranged Üstün and Jean's purchase of their house.

After lunch, Aye and I went back down into the valley. We followed the stream to where it went into a tunnel. We walked through far enough to see the other end; but we couldn't see that we could actually reach the end without getting our feet wet. We turned back.

 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]

We walked up to the agricultural land opposite the village. We were met by a girl and a boy whom we had encountered the day before; there was also one new girl. They all told us their zodiacal signs, and they asked us ours. Ayşe complied, but I refused, saying it was meaningless.

Aye continued the argument, asking the children why they wanted to divide the world into twelve groups. “Do you know how many people there are in the world?” she asked.

No answer.

“Do you know how many people there are in Turkey?”

No answer.

The children thought my Turkish was funny. When I asked if they wanted to speak English, they clammed up with shy smiles. They admitted to studying English at school, but the only English expression they cared to offer was, “What is your name?”

The children did not want to walk further up the road with us: they said there was nothing that way. But there were vineyards, and beyond them a view of snow-covered Mount Argaeus (Erciyes). In the other direction, there was a view of Üstün and Jean sitting on their terrace. We waved from time to time, and eventually they saw us and waved back.

 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]

During our morning walk, Üstün had not wanted to go down by the stream, because of the litter that villagers threw there. When Ayşe and I returned the village on our afternoon walk, we stopped by one of the small markets on the maidan. A man asked if it had been we who had spoken to his wife in the morning. In fact, Üstün had praised a beautiful dog, but the woman standing by had remained mute. Apparently she hadn't been mute with her husband. But he was a friendly chap. When he found out that we had been down in the valley, he said it was disgusting down there.

“Of course it's disgusting” said Ayşe; “you throw your trash down there!”

What could he say? He came up with “Hayırlısı olsun.”

By itself, hayır means good, the opposite of evil; the adjective form is hayırlı, and one may say hayırlı olsun, “May it be good,” to offer congratulations at the beginning of a new enterprise. I had not before encountered hayırlısı olsun, which literally means something like “May it have good”; a dictionary suggests the translation, “Let's hope for the best.”

 [photo from Ibrahimpaa, April, 2010]

Two women came into the shop, and when they found out that Ayşe spoke English, they asked her to ask the shopkeeper for a small jar of jam. However, his only jars held a kilogram each. Did he have any honey then? No. I thought perhaps honey, like yoghurt, was a local product that no villager would actually buy. I reported to the women that I had seen a man repairing beehives out on the maidan.

Back at the house, stonemasons were expected; they would give an estimate on finishing the caves below the terrace. Jean embraced them warmly when they came. But the first visitors were the couple who had bicycled from Scotland with their three-year-old. Dorothée's sister was married to Jean's nephew. Dorothée, Rupert, and Océanne had stayed with Üstün's sister in Istanbul, hoping to get visas from the Iranian consulate so that they could continue travelling east. They were denied visas, possibly because the photos submitted by Dorothée did not show her with a headscarf. So they decided to fly to China and bicycle west. To this end, they first bicycled to Ankara and stayed with Üstün and Jean while applying to the Chinese embassy for visas. Meanwhile Dorothée's mother came to visit, and now they were all touring Cappadocia in a rented car. But Rupert said he was keen to get back in the saddle. He told me he and Dorothée each towed a trailer: one for Océanne, and the other, a BOB trailer, for gear. I recalled that, in the mid-1990s, I had bought one of the first BOB trailers and gone bicycling with their inventor. It is good to see the invention has been a success.

Son değişiklik: Tuesday, 26 February 2013, 09:26:42 EET